This has been the cause of ongoing controversy (and a petition) surrounding the upcoming Nina Simone biopic and the casting of Zoe Saldana as the “High Priestess of Soul.”
As Ann Hornaday reported in September, movie casting often comes down to dollar signs first and popularity second.
Hornaday explains: “These rules of the road became controversially clear this summer when it was announced that Zoe Saldana would play Nina Simone in a coming biopic about the late jazz singer. The choice created a firestorm among bloggers and commenters, who were aghast at the idea of Saldana playing a woman to whom she bears little physical resemblance. Shrewd observers of the industry, though, recognized that Saldana is one of a few actresses of color with the box-office pull — real or perceived — to get an independent production off the ground.” (Read the full article.).
Simone’s daughter, Simone, shared her thoughts on the casting choice in a post on the late singer’s official website: “I have seen many names regarding who you think should play the role of Nina. Remember Angela Basserr as Tina Turner? SHE NAILED IT! Angela Bassett is an ACTRESS! And, we all know she lip synced along with Tina and did an amazing job. Personally, I prefer an actress to a singer. Just because a person is great at one does not mean they will be great at the other. If written, funded, and CAST PROPERLY a movie about my mother will make [a] lasting imprint.”